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Lean Philosophy and Culture

Your Lean journey consists of both a philosophy, supported with your culture.

In a broad sense, philosophy is an activity people undertake when they seek to understand fundamental truths about themselves, the world in which they live, and their relationships to the world and to each other. As an academic discipline philosophy is much the same. Those who study philosophy are perpetually engaged in asking, answering, and arguing for their answers to life's most basic questions.

In the world of Lean my philosophy is that i am in constant pursuit of achieving a perfect process. A Process where an object is set in motion, never stopping while gathering value (that the customer is willing to pay for) until it lands in the hands of the customer to their delight.

The reality is that my desired philosophy is wrought with "Disturbances to Flow" which can easily be identified as wastes where can use our Lean Methods to reduce or eliminate or the process can also be impacted with variability where our suite of Problem Solving skills and methods can help us.

We may never accomplish achieving that Perfect Process but it should always be our Mantra and Philosophy of a desired state.

When it comes to Culture my dream is to have a fully engaged and dedicated workforce committed to Continuous Improvement. A workforce that are invigorated for constant Learning, committed to Problem Solving, acting with responsibility like adults working with adults as if they own the business. My Leadership role becomes easier in my support to maintain the basic tenant of Lean ... "Respect for People".

Again reality comes to bite me ... not all people desire to become engaged or motivated to be constantly Learning. You know what? That is acceptable and actually needed within our business, i fully understand that some people want to just come to work, perform a task and leave at quitting time ... but during there presence they do a very effective job.

Typically our organizations have subtle attributes to dismiss the value and stature of our employees. Ranging from Time Clocks, because we do not trust our employees to act responsibly to show up for work to our Quality Systems peppered with Policies and Procedures that employees "SHALL" follow or be severely punished.

What is more important that as Leaders we fully understand the statistical model that exists in every group of people. And once we understand the statistical demographic it makes it so much easier to manage.

The model consists of 20% of the group that will rally around any ides giving it full support and fuel your desire with enthusiasm, passion and commitment. These we definitely want and we want to constantly fuel them with more empowerment and encouragement.

At the other end we have that highly negative 20%. Most important is to acknowledge that they exists but dont waste your time to convert them, they will not. Also dont give them too much attention either because if you do they will commandeer your desire in a negative manner ... some of this group can be your silent saboteurs of change.

Most important is that silent 60% sitting in the middle just observing. They observe the positive. They observe the negative. Ultimately, they will throw their support behind the Leader who is getting the most attention.

If you are looking for a complete conversion of engagement you will only be frustrated and praying for a dream that will never become reality.

My best experience as a Leader occurred when i really did trust my organization where any employee could use our company van without seeking permission and use our corporate credit card if they needed anything that would improve our environment or process. This situation had evolved over time and greatly was amplified after we had a company meeting that was high-lighted by smashing our punch clock and telling people we now acknowledged them as responsible adults.

Indeed, we still had a few negative occupants (it is a statistical model), but the others did not want to lose the respect they had earned so in essence helped me coach the negative to become less negative.

Our Philosophy of keeping an object in constant motion while adding value the customer is willing to pay for also became part of our culture.


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